Wild Boar Bolognese with Ricotta Cavatelli and Marinated Curds

Chef says: At its base, this recipe is Italian, which is what we love to cook at town, but it also includes traditional Québec flavours, which honour my roots. It is a mix of a traditional bolognese and a French Canadian tourtière with a hint of Québec poutine. If you have the time, make it the day before, so the flavours can develop further. Tourtière spice can be found in some specialty stores or butcher shops. If you can’t find it readily, combine three bay leaves, a tablespoon each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice and ground savory and a half tablespoon of ground mace in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. You will need a cavatelli-maker, which is a readily available and inexpensive tool, and a great addition to any kitchen. Otherwise, skip this step and purchase good-quality fresh pasta instead.
By / Photography By Christian Lalonde | October 17, 2016

Preparation

Marinated curds

4 ounces cheese curds
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of dried Calabrian chili pepperor any dried red chili pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a 1-pint Mason jar (or similar container with a tight-fitting lid) and stir or shake well to coat. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, best, overnight (Will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days if well sealed.)

Pâté brisée crumble

2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine flour, butter and salt and pulse until crumbly. Add eggs and pulse until dough naturally starts to form into a ball. Remove from the food processor, gently shape into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, best, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about ¹/8 inch thick and the dimensions of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, break into rough pieces, each ¹/4 to ¹/2 inch, and set aside.

Bolognese sauce

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound ground wild boar
1½ pounds medium ground pork
1½ pounds medium ground beef
½ pound finely ground pancetta (or bacon)
2 medium white onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
6 carrots, finely diced
pinch of kosher salt pinch of black pepper
2 cups red wine
4 cups 2-per-cent milk
3/4 cup milled or puréed canned tomatoes
¼ cup tourtière spice (see headnote)
finely minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add ground boar, pork, beef and pancetta and cook until well browned. Turn the browned meat into a bowl and set aside.

Return the pot to the stove, turn down the heat to medium and add more oil, if necessary. Stir in onions, garlic, celery and carrots, seasoning with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Return the browned meat to the pot, add red wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add milk, tomatoes and tourtière spice and stir to combine. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 11/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be well concentrated and meaty.

Remove the sauce from the heat, cover and refrigerate overnight to cool and let the flavours meld. Gently reheat the sauce while you cook the pasta.

Ricotta

1 gallon (16 cups) 2-per-cent milk
4 cups buttermilk
zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup whipping (35-per-cent) cream

In a large pot, whisk together milk, buttermilk, lemon zest and salt. Place the mixture over medium-low heat and, without stirring, heat the mixture to 180F, about 15 minutes (use an instantread thermometer). Once this temperature is reached, curds will form on the surface. Once the curds start to sink, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, scoop out and drain the curds; set aside to cool to room temperature. (Discard the liquid whey or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 1 week and use it as a brine for pork or as a replacement for water in soups and stocks.) Transfer the curds to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. With the motor running at low speed, slowly pour in cream and process until smooth.

Ricotta cavatelli

1½ cups ricotta cheese (fresh or good-quality store-bought)
1 large egg, beaten
2 egg yolks, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine all of the ingredients and mix at medium speed for about 5 minutes or until incorporated and the dough starts to cling to the hook. If it seems a little dry, add a touch of water; if too wet, add a touch of flour (humidity can be a factor when making dough). Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes to develop the gluten. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour or, better, refrigerate overnight and let come to room temperature before rolling.

Have ready a cavatelli-maker. Lightly dust a baking sheet and clean work surface with flour. Clamp the cavatelli-maker onto the edge of a sturdy surface. Cut the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope about 3/4 inch in diametre. Process the ropes through the rollers of the cavatelli machine, according to its instructions. Arrange the cavatelli in a single layer on the baking sheet. (If you are not using them right away, refrigerate the baking sheet wrapped in plastic wrap.)

To cook the cavatelli, bring a large pot of salted water (it should taste like sea water) to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 1 minute or until it floats to the surface; drain well.

To serve

Add cooked cavatelli to the warm Bolognese sauce and toss to combine. Divide the pasta and sauce among six deep bowls or serve family-style on a platter. Top with marinated cheese curds, drizzling a little of the marinating oil on top. Sprinkle the pâté brisée crumble and parsley over the curds for a little colour.

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